A table tennis robot can be a really useful training aid, especially if you have a table at home. I saved up and bought a robot when I was about 15 years old to give me some extra practice. I still have the robot today (actually it is at school and I use it for my coaching) and it has never had a single problem during the ten years I’ve owned it.
Table tennis robots come in a variety of shapes and sizes (and prices). It can be difficult to know what you need and to decide whether it is worth paying twice as much money for a better model.
In this post, I will be looking at the best table tennis robots currently available. I will be splitting up the robots based on their price and pointing out my personal favourites in each category.
Basic Table Tennis Robots (Under $500)
The following robots are all available for under $500. That might not seem super cheap, but table tennis robots are usually pretty expensive and can reach up to $3,000! All of these robots sit on top of the table and need to be refilled manually once you have used up all of the balls. They all also do not come with a net, so this will need to be bought separately.
Price: $149.99 or £99.99
I still can’t believe that you can buy a table tennis robot for this price! iPong has created a range of table tennis robots (Topspin, Original & Pro) that are considerably cheaper than anything else on the market. The robots are ideally suited to infrequent home use but I guess could be used at a club or school too.
If you are looking for a basic table tennis robot and don’t have much money to spend then I would highly recommend giving an iPong robot a try.
I have selected the iPong Original as my favorite for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the most basic model (the iPong Topspin) has a couple of drawbacks. I think a big advantage of using a robot is being able to practice attacking a backspin ball over and over again. It can be difficult to do this even when playing with a partner. The iPong Topspin cannot give backspin and I think if you are going to buy a robot you really want one that can produce backspin for you. It is also battery operated which could be useful in some situations but I imagine would become quite annoying most of the time. You want a robot that can be attached to the mains just for ease of use.
Secondly, the top model (the iPong Pro) comes with an oscillation feature for ball placement. This is pretty cool feature but I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that the oscillation doesn’t work, or that their robot is now stuck in oscillation mode, or even that they have had to take it apart and fix it themselves because of a problem with the oscillation. It sounds like the oscillation feature of the iPong Pro may be more trouble than it’s worth and make the robot more likely to break.
So I recommend the iPong Original if you are looking for an entry-level table tennis robot that isn’t going to break the bank.
You should also be aware that these robots are sometimes rebranded and called the JOOLA Buddy Table Tennis Robot. They are exactly the same and I think the colour scheme for each model is the same as well.
Price: $299.00 or £333.00
Newgy table tennis robots are very well-known and popular, especially in the United States. They were first released in 1988 and are the original table tennis robot. The Newgy Robo-Pong 540 is their basic model and advertised as your first step into table tennis robot training.
You can see that the Newgy Robo-Pong 540 is a significant step up from the iPong robots. It is a sturdy, well-built robot that should be able to withstand much more regular use than an iPong.
It is able to generate all four spins (topspin, backspin and both sidespins) and it also has the ability to combine spins so that you can have it produce topspin and sidespin, or backspin and sidespin.
The other advantage of the Robo-Pong 540 over an iPong is the ability to tilt the robot head up or down. This means that you can aim it up in the air and have it feed you lob-like balls or aim it all the way down so that it is actually serving the ball at you! This is a really handy feature and using a combination spin (such as backspin and sidespin) and aiming the robot head down to produce a serve is a brilliant way to work on your return or service.
The Newgy Robo-Pong 540 can hold up to 120 balls which are enough for a minute or two of non-stop play before you need to stop and refill the ball.
Price: $499.99 or £269.99
The Practice Partner 20 table tennis robot is a brilliant basic robot that is simple to use and suitable for all levels of players. Sam Priestley (the participant in my Expert in a Year challenge) has a Practice Partner 20 and has found it really beneficial.
I have used Newgy robots and Practice Partner robots and personally I find the Practice Partners to be more solid, heavier and less likely to break/get stuck. Sometimes the Newgy robots feel a little bit ‘plasticy’.
Like the Robo-Pong 540 the Practice Partner 20 can produce all four spin and combinations of them too, giving it eight possible spins. It can feed 25-80 balls per minute and has the oscillation feature so that balls can either be directed to one spot on moved from side-to-side.
If you buy this robot on its own you will need to purchase a net to attach to the table as well. Unless you fancy picking all the ball up from the floor after each go!
Sometimes this robot is also called a Y&T V-981 Robot. They are sold by Megaspin in the US under this name. These robots are made in China before being exported around the world so that is why they have different names in different countries. The models are identical though.
If you are based in the UK then this is probably the best table tennis robot if you are looking for something basic to use at home or at your club/school. Sam is very happy with his and it has proved invaluable for our Expert in a Year training.
Advanced Table Tennis Robots (Under $1000)
The following table tennis robots are all available for under $1000 (roughly £700). These are the mid-range table tennis robots. They are a step up from the basic models but don’t offer all of the features of the top-of-the-range machines. These robots are all self-standing or attach to the end of the table (don’t sit on the table) and come with a net that allows balls to be recycled back into the machine. This is a big time saver and means that theoretically the robot could continue without needing to be stopped/refilled forever!
Price: $699.99 or £685.00
The Newgy Robo-Pong 2050 is the top robot sold by Newgy. It’s a really smart robot using digital technology and a ‘PC mode’ to enable you to connect the robot to your computer, create drills and store them in the system.
I’ve never used one of these intelligent robots that lets you actually program it for certain drills and patterns but I’d really like to! This ability means that the robot become much more valuable and also much more similar to playing against a partner.
A great feature of this robot is the double collection net. The first net is much looser which ‘kills’ the balls and causes them just to drop straight down. Many robot nets are way too tight (Sam’s one certainly is) and what ends up happening is the balls hit the net and thing shoot back out onto the table. This makes it difficult to keep your eye on the correct ball and can also end up with less balls being recycled by the machine. Newgy have got the net spot on!
The robot comes with 48 balls included but you will probably want to buy another box of 100 at least as it doesn’t hurt having plenty of balls when using a robot.
Price: $865.99 or £696.00
The Practice Partner 50 (also known as the Y&T V-988) is the table tennis robot that I bought as a teenager to use at home. It is a really great, solid and well-made robot that has lasted me for ten years and has never had a single issue!
The robot is self-standing and has wheels to enable you to wheel it around from table to table. I think that the fact that it is self-standing and doesn’t have to keep being set up and taken down makes it much more durable and less likely to break/get broken. It is very heavy but I think, again, this is good for durability.
You can tell the difference between this robot and the Practice Partner 20 I spoke about early. The balls are released in a crisper manner and are more powerful and more accurate. It just feels like a more expensive machine and much more solid.
The only downside with this robot is that it doesn’t offer any of the fancy options for programming drills. Instead it focuses on doing the basics very well and not breaking.
If you are looking for a really high-spec robot this is probably not for you but if you are a club/school and you just want a robot that will take a lot of use and not keep breaking down then I think this one is perfect. And of course it’ll do everything you need it to do for learning shots and working on basic side-to-side footwork.
Professional Table Tennis Robots (Over $1000)
These are the top-of-the-range table tennis robots that are packed full of features not available on cheaper models.
Price: $1499.95 or £1299.99
The Practice Partner 100 (also known as the Y&T S-27) is a dual headed table tennis robot with a serious control system that takes the whole process up a notch when it comes to robot training!
Why would you want a dual headed robot? Well, it isn’t just to look cool (it does look cool though). A dual headed robot means that you can do drills that involves you playing against two different types of balls. For example, you can have the robot send a backspin ball to your backhand (which you loop) and then a topspin ball to your forehand (which you counter topspin).
This allows you to train your combination stroke play as well as just your basic stroke technique, as you combine two strokes together as you see them in a game.
The other cool feature of this robot is the ability to create float balls, balls with no spin. Float balls are a big part of table tennis but the cheaper robots aren’t able to produce float. I have no idea how this robot makes float but it does, and that is pretty useful.
I found a video of the robot in action too!
I can vouch for the high quality of these Y&T robots having got one myself (and played on Sam’s). If you can afford I would highly recommend getting this version as it just has so many more options when compared to the others.
Price: $1,999.99 or £1,439.99
The Butterfly Amicus table tennis robots are at the cutting edge of technology and the Professional version is their top model.
I really want to have a go on one of these and see if they live up to the hype! The professional version can feed up to eight balls per exercise and you can program in and save up to 99 different exercises.
The other cool feature is the variable amount of spin. With the other robots I’ve spoken about you can just set which spin you would like and then it does that. With this robot, you can actually tell it to give you heavy topspin, or medium topspin, or light topspin.
I also like the way they have built one robot with three different models that you can switch and change between. The robot is actually the same for all three models. It is the control panel that changes between models and the control panel gives you the ability to get the robot to do all the complicated stuff!
You’ve probably seen this video before but here is the official trailer for the Amicus robot from Butterfly…
Which one is the best table tennis robot?
In this post I’ve highlighted seven table tennis robots that I think are great options, but which is the best?
If money isn’t an option (unfortunately this is rarely the case) the Butterfly Amicus Professional looks like an awesome piece of kit that is most like playing against another player. It has so many options and is going to give you the most variability in your practice. However, at £1499.99 it is very expensive! For the same price, you could probably have about 50 hours of private coaching with a table tennis coach. I guess it’s up to you to decide if that is money well spent in your circumstances.
Personally, I really like the iPong Original table tennis robot. I think at around £100 it is unbelievably good value and would make the perfect present for any aspiring beginner looking to groove their strokes at home and improve their technique. With the large amount of technique videos now available on YouTube, I can see the possibility for players to pretty much self-teach themselves to play using a robot like this.
If you are in the US I think the Robo-Pong 2050 is great value at $699.99 and is a really solid robot that can do much of what the Butterfly Amicus can do at less than half the price!
And lastly, the Practice Partner 20 (Y&T V-981) certainly deserves a mention at £269.99 in the UK (via Amazon). Sam Priestley has been using this robot a lot as part of the Expert in a Year challenge and it does a really good job when you consider the price. We haven’t had any problems with it at all and it can produce 8 different spin variations and has the oscillation feature.
What is your favorite robot? Please leave a comment and let us know!
Also, if you have any experience with any of the above robots and would like to add your two cents please leave a comment and add to the discussion. Thanks.